Window for U.S. soybean exports closing

An ag economist says the window for U.S. soybean exports to make up lost ground from Hurricane Ida related shipping issues is closing.

Ben Brown with the University of Missouri’s Food and Agricultural Policy Research Institute tells Brownfield while soybean exports have recently gotten back to normal levels, they need to be even higher to make up for the lost trade.

“Brazilian soybean planting is off to a very fast pace,” he said. “Their soybeans likely are going to hit the market earlier than they have in the past and so the concern is our window is shrinking for soybean exports and that by the time we get around to February, our demand for our product is going to dry up and it’s going to all switch to South America.”

Brown said soybean exports have been around 95 million bushels a week for the past several weeks, but USDA dropped its expected soybean export total by 40 million bushels in its recent supply and demand estimate.

And he said the short-term demand for U.S. soybeans could be fragile as international soy crush facility shutdowns due to both energy and COVID-19 concerns have been limiting demand, especially in China.

“Both of those are putting almost a pinch and a bottleneck in some of our international markets in terms of the demand for the product, most notably China,” Brown said.

He said China consumes about 60 percent of the U.S.’ soybeans.

Brown said the commodity market’s focus shifts from production to demand as the driving factor this time of year, but the market is also looking ahead to next year’s supply, factoring in higher fertilizer costs.

Ben Brown Interview

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